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Office of Undergraduate Admissions

Freshman Applicants

Our application for fall opens Aug. 1  and we can’t wait to read yours!

Complete either the USC Application or the Common App. Choose the application that you are most comfortable submitting. There is no advantage in the admission process to using one application over the other.  

Planning to apply? 

Download a copy of our step-by-step guide to help you apply to USC. 

USC Application Guide

Required Materials

All freshman applicants must submit the following credentials: 

You'll provide your high school courses/grades for your senior year only, choose your major, complete the essay, and list your extracurricular activities, honors and awards. You will also decide whether you want us to consider your ACT / SAT scores in the review process. 

All information submitted with your application will be used to determine admission and merit-based scholarship award decisions. 

Regardless of which application you select, you must pay the nonrefundable $65 application fee or use an ACT, College Board, NACAC, SCOIR or Common App application fee waiver, if eligible.

Upload a legible unofficial copy of your high school transcript in JPG or PDF format. After you submit the application, we’ll review your uploaded transcript and let you know if we need an official one. The unofficial transcript must list grades through the end of your junior year and include your full name and high school name. Do not send an official high school transcript to the admissions office unless it is requested.

If you already graduated from high school, request to have your official transcript sent to USC’s Office of Undergraduate Admissions.

Don't forget to list your senior year courses and credits on the application. You must list the exact amount of credit (full, half, trimester) for each course. You will also need to list all dual enrollment courses you are taking.

USC is test-optional for the spring, summer and fall 2025 terms. This means you are not required to submit SAT and / or ACT scores for admission or merit scholarship consideration. You will select “Yes” or “No” on the application to indicate whether you want us to review your test scores as part of the admission process. 

If you choose to report your scores on the application, enter the highest scores for the ACT composite and / or the SAT total. If you took either test more than once, we will superscore using all tests taken.  

USC’s deadline for receipt of test scores is based on the credentials deadline associated with your application type. If test scores are not received by the credentials deadline, your application will be considered on a space-available basis. We require official scores only if you enroll in USC. Our SAT code is 5818 and our ACT code is 3880. 

USC is test-optional through the fall, spring and summer 2025. Review frequently asked questions about USC's test-optional policy. 


Important Dates

Freshman applications must be submitted by the following deadlines:

  • October 15

    Early Action Application Deadline

    Apply by Oct. 15 to receive an admissions decision in mid-December. 

    Credentials due by Nov. 1.*

  • November 15

    Honors College Application Deadline

    Apply by Nov. 15 to be considered for the Honors College and Top Scholars awards.

    Credentials due by Dec. 1.*

  • December 1

    Regular Application Deadline

    Apply by Dec. 1 to receive an admissions decision by mid-March.

    Credentials due by  Jan. 15.*

*Last date to submit any outstanding items listed on your USC Admissions Portal and to switch your preference on having test scores considered.

Application Review

Freshman admission is based primarily on a student’s academic performance. This includes grades earned in core classes in high school, class standing or class rank (if available) and rigor of coursework. The admissions committee evaluates each applicant in that year’s pool and selects applicants based on the following factors:

Students seeking admission as freshmen are expected to meet the minimum college prep high school core course curriculum required by the South Carolina Commission on Higher Education.

  • 4 units with strong reading, writing, communicating and research
  • Recommended that 2 of the 4 units are literature based, including American, British and World literature
  • College prep English I, II, III and IV meet requirement
  • Algebra I*
  • Algebra II
  • Geometry
  • Fourth higher level unit selected among Algebra III, pre-calculus, calculus, probability and statistics, discrete mathematics, or computer science**

*Foundations in algebra and intermediate algebra may count together as a substitute for Algebra I if a student successfully completes Algebra II.

**Computer science should involve significant programming content, not simply keyboarding or using applications.

  • 2 units from different fields: biology, chemistry, physics or earth science
  • 1 additional unit from biology, chemistry, physics or earth science or any other laboratory science with biology, chemistry, physics and / or earth science as a prerequisite*

*Courses in general science or introductory science for which one of these four units is not a prerequisite will not meet this requirement.

  • 1 unit U.S. history
  • ½ unit economics
  • ½ unit government
  • 1 unit world history or geography strongly recommended
  • Both units must be in the same language
  •  Art appreciation, art history or performance in one of the fine arts
  • 2 units of college-preparatory coursework*
  • Computer science with significant programming content recommended

*Alternative electives include college-preparatory courses in English, fine arts, foreign languages, social science, humanities, mathematics and laboratory science (for which biology, chemistry, physics or earth science is a prerequisite).

High school grades are the most important factor in determining a student's ability to compete for admission to USC. We look for demonstrated academic achievement by reviewing courses and grades, recognizing that different high schools provide different levels of opportunity.  

We recommend taking the most challenging coursework available at your high school, provided you can be successful. This includes programs like honors, AP, IB and dual enrollment. Many of these courses also provide opportunities to earn college credit while attending high school.

We suggest reviewing our academic profile as you consider your preferred testing plan. The profile shows the ranges for standardized test scores, high school GPA and class rank for general admission, Capstone Scholars and the South Carolina Honors College. 

Part of our review process includes your choice of major. You have the option to choose a second choice major on your application. This ensures the highest consideration for admission based on the competitiveness of each class and the capacity of some majors. If you are unsure of your major, you can select “Undeclared” in the College of Arts and Sciences. 

The essay is your opportunity to tell us something about yourself that is not already in your application. The purpose is to get to know you better. The best essay topic is going to be the one you are most excited to write about and one that reflects on a personal experience. Make it less about the topic and more about you! 

There is one required essay on the application that is reviewed as part of our holistic admissions process. You will choose an essay prompt from the list provided in the application, regardless of application type. 

This section allows you to list and explain up to 10 extracurricular activities you’ve been involved in throughout high school. In the description, include your duties, recognitions or leadership roles. Explain the activity and your specific involvement. It’s more about quality than quantity in this section! 

All South Carolina students who are ranked in the top 10% of their high school graduating class will be admitted to the University of South Carolina’s Columbia campus starting with the Fall 2024 application cycle. 

To be eligible students must:

  • Graduate from a S.C. public high school or be a South Carolina resident graduating from an independent school with a graduating class of 20 or more students.
  • Apply as an entering first-time freshman by the Dec. 1 application deadline.
  • Complete the required college preparatory high school course curriculum with no grade below a C.

Program details:

  • Class rank is determined at the end of the junior year in high school as indicated on the high school transcript provided when students apply.
  • Admission to the first-choice major indicated on the admission application is not guaranteed.
  • Students enrolled in dual credit or college courses may also have to meet minimum transfer requirements.
  • Non-traditional high school students and mid-year graduates may qualify on a case-by-case basis.
  • If a high school does not rank, a school profile displaying senior class GPA percentile data will be requested from the high school to determine eligibility.

Academic Profile

These ranges reflect the middle 50% of the students who were admitted in 2024 and give you a general idea of where you fall within each academic range.

Standardized Test Scores Middle 50%

S.C. Residents Nonresidents Capstone Scholars Honors College
1110 - 1320 SAT 1260 - 1410 SAT 1340 - 1430 SAT 1430 - 1530 SAT
22 - 30 ACT 27 - 32 ACT 30 - 32 ACT 32 - 35 ACT


High School Academic Performance* Middle 50%

Freshman Class Capstone Scholars Honors College
4.1 - 4.7 HS GPA 4.3 - 4.9 HS GPA 4.5 - 5.1 HS GPA
7% - 26% Class Rank 3% - 14% Class Rank 1% - 5% Class Rank

* Class rank ranges only include students whose high school provides a ranking. 

After You Apply

After you submit the application, you can check your application status on your USC Admissions Portal. You can also request changes to your application. Once we've made a decision on your application, you will receive an email instructing you to check your portal.

USC Admissions Portal

Decision Types

Admit - Admitted freshmen have until May 1 to decide to enroll. 

Bridge to Carolina - A select group of students will be invited to participate in one of our bridge programs, Gamecock Gateway and Palmetto Pathway

Waitlist - A limited number of students will be offered a place on the waitlist.

Deny - While freshman admission to USC is not an option, students can become a Gamecock by transferring to USC in a future semester.

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